Learner driver crashed car after taking friend’s keys

A ROOKIE driver found the temptation to get in some extra practice too good a chance to miss when he came across car keys left in a fruit bowl by a friend, a court was told last Thursday.

But Darren Carl Wilson’s bid to add mileage to what he had clocked up in just four official lessons ended in a smash and in him facing five charges before Harrogate magistrates.

Wilson, 21, of Regent Avenue, Harrogate, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, driving without either insurance or appropriate licence – he holds only a provisional – and failing to stop after an accident.

A charge of failing to report the incident was dropped.

Prosecutor Martin Butterworth said Kelly Herrington, a friend of Wilson, had left the keys to her Peugeot 106 in a fruit bowl at his home – she was friendly with his partner - while she had a night out.

Wilson had taken them and driven off.

And just after midnight, as he was returning to Regent Avenue, he crashed the car into a parked van, abandoned it in the middle of the road and fled.

Mr Butterworth said two days later Wilson confessed what he had done to Ms Herrington and then went to the police to admit his guilt. He told officers he ‘‘went out for a spin’’ without permission.

In mitigation Allyson Peach said Wilson had acted stupidly in a spur of the moment decision.

He had told the police he was ‘‘just being an idiot’’ and after crashing he had panicked and gone home.

Wilson had paid Ms Herrington £300 for her car to be repaired.

The court heard Wilson had had just four driving lessons at the time of the incident and had decided to get in some practice without thinking through his actions.

He was still on friendly terms with the car owner who had taken the incident much better than he had thought she would.

Presiding magistrate Eric Fell told Wilson it was in his favour that he had gone to the police himself, but he had chosen to drive without licence or insurance.

And the fact that he left the scene aggravated the situation.

He was made subject to a one-year community order with 100 hours of unpaid work, £85 costs, £300 compensation for damage to the van and a 12-month driving ban.

‘‘We hope you have learned a lesson from this,’’ said Mr Fell.